GDA celebrates its 25th anniversary

Düsseldorf-based Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie (GDA) is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The association was founded on 15 September 1992 in Dresden and to mark the occasion GDA held its general meeting in Dresden again this year. As at the inaugural meeting in 1992, the guest speaker was Professor Kurt H. Biedenkopf, the former state premier of Saxony.

GDA is most important national trade association in European aluminium industry

GDA general meeting in Dresden.
GDA honorary president Dietrich Boesken, GDA president Dr-Ing. Hinrich Mählmann, Prof Dr Kurt H. Biedenkopf.

GDA represents the sector interests of aluminium producing and processing companies in Germany; an annual turnover of 14 billion euros generated by 73,000 employees underlines the industry’s economic importance. Based on the production of the German aluminium industry, some 96 per cent of all aluminium companies are members of the association. “Our representation of the sector entered a new era with the founding of GDA in its present form in Dresden in 1992,” said GDA president Dr Hinrich Mählmann looking back at GDA’s history. “In the 1990s, mergers and amalgamations meant GDA could make individual aluminium trade associations, which had hitherto operated as independent organisations, even more market oriented. The new GDA expanded its information services, increased its customer focus and materials expertise and strengthened its representation of the sector’s interests at a social and political level. Today, GDA is the most important national trade association in the European aluminium industry, if not worldwide.”

The inaugural meeting of GDA in Dresden in 1992 was preceded by the first-ever large joint ‘Aluminium-Tagung’ (Aluminium Meeting) of all aluminium trade associations and organisations in Germany. Following the country’s reunification, the German aluminium industry deliberately chose Dresden as the venue for its meeting as a gesture of solidarity with the new federal states. As Dr Mählmann noted, “With this organisational restructuring, our industry presented itself as a single entity within its economic and political environment. And with the official founding of GDA it sent out a strong message regarding the metal’s future and new standards for the work of the association.”

Christian Wellner has managed GDA since 1992, and he is now the managing member of its executive board. Dr Mählmann: “Christian Wellner has always devoted himself wholeheartedly to the interests of the aluminium industry and for 25 years his work for the members of the association and the whole of the sector has been extremely successful and has received high recognition.”

Professor Kurt Biedenkopf delivers keynote speech

In his speech to mark the association’s silver anniversary, Professor Biedenkopf congratulated GDA: “In its 25-year history, GDA has demonstrated impressive capabilities and a keen awareness of changes.” He reminisced about the difficulties in the early years after the reunification of the two German nations and the enormous human effort that the integration of East Germany in the Western economic system had brought with it. The Federal Republic of Germany as a whole had changed since reunification, both in commerce and its historical self-perception. After a lack of freedom for over 50 years and a state-controlled economy, there had been an absence of properly functioning markets in the former GDR. One had had to first create the basis and the understanding for private enterprise amongst the population. The people of East Germany had successfully mastered this major challenge in the past 25 years. “Inclusion has become integration and has borne fruit in both directions,” explained Professor Biedenkopf.

In the next few years the challenges for society would be the demographic development, digitalisation, health policy and ecological issues. “Major changes are pending simultaneously and we can no longer defer making decisions like we have been doing for years,” said Professor Biedenkopf. He said the major challenge that politicians and society had to master in the coming years would be to adopt new approaches, flexibly and in good time, to the problems society will face in the future and to be willing to shape these changes.